The Scientific Temperance Federation was formed in 1906 upon the death of Mary Hunt. She was a leader of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Hunt was head of the WCTU’s powerful Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction (DSTI).
Temperance textbooks needed Mary Hunt’s approval to be endorsed by the WCTU. And without that endorsement it was almost impossible to sell them.
Many people thought Hunt was making money in working on and approving the books. She strongly denied that charge.
Ms. Hunt devised a plan to conceal her very large income. She signed over to charity the royalties from the sale of hundreds of thousands of textbooks sold annually. That, in addition to her profits from editing, revising, and even anonymously writing some of the books.
The charity Hunt selected was a small group. It was composed of Mary Hunt, her pastor, and a few friends. The goal was to support the operation of the WCTU’s DSTI. Or was it to hide Mary Hunt’s income? The headquarters of the charity was a large house. It was also Hunt’s residence.
Scientific Temperance Federation Formed
These deceitful legal arrangements clouded ownership of her estate. And there was a legal battle. This led to the creation of the Scientific Temperance Federation (STF). Mary Hunt’s personal secretary, Cora Stoddard, headed the new group.
Mary Hunt had amassed a large fortune from her supposedly “voluntary” work. This gave the STF a large endowment. It used it in a wide variety of activities to promote the temperance movement and prohibition.
The Scientific Temperance Federation had great success.
These were three-dimensional visual images on the effects of alcohol. Actually, of alcohol abuse. The STF introduced these in 1912 at an exhibit on Alcohol and Public Health presented. This was at the International Congress in Hygiene and Demography in Washington, D.C.
A major nation-wide project of the STF was an innovative “Education on Wheels” project. It took temperance education directly to people at their homes and farms.
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The delivery system for Education of Wheels consisted of “A light express wagon. Twenty Scientific Temperance and home-made posters. Talking machine. Italian, Swedish, Polish and English talking machine records. Various dramatic representations of SCIENTIFIC temperance facts in the form of entertaining models, etc. A good supply of scientific temperance and no-license literature and buttons for children.1 (Emphasis in original.)
One member of STF explained how they operated. “We drove into fields, stopped in roads, backed into farm yards, up to back doors, sick-room windows. Anywhere, where folks tried to dodge us.”2
STF and the Temperance Education Foundation worked together
The Education on Wheels project was very successful in reaching people with the message of temperance. Yet there were problems. Of course, there was the Repeal of Prohibition. And the stock market crash leading to the Depression. This led to the STF joining with the Temperance Education Foundation in 1933. But it kept its own identity and published temperance materials until least 35 years.
The efforts of the Federation were not entirely in vain. Today, almost one in five U.S. adults favors making drinking illegal for everyone. But not even National prohibition outlawed alcohol consumption. Tens of millions more people support neo-prohibition ideas. And they strongly support the many vestiges of Prohibition that still exist.
Resources: Scientific Temperance Federation
- Berk, L. Temperance and Prohibition era propaganda. Brown U Library.
- Crothers, T. The Scientific Temperance Federation – a new movement. JAMA, 1907, XLIX(2), 157-158.
- Hanson, D. Alcohol Education. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.
- The New York (City) Public Library holds records of the STF.
- Science and education applied to the alcohol question. Report of the Secretary of the Scientific Temperance Federation. Reprinted from J Inebriety, Spring, 1908. Boston: STF, 1908.
- The effect of beer or wine on school children; also, A physician’s opinion of beer drinking. Boston: STF, 1935.
- A sample issue of the Scientific Temperance Journal (Aug, 1921).
- Shall We Save Beer and Wine? Wash: Int Reform Bureau, 191-.
- Stoddard, C. The Teacher’s Part in the Anti-alcohol Movement. Boston: STF, 1927.
- The Story of a Paying Investment. New Haven, CT: STF, 1927.
- Temperance and prohibition papers, including those of the Scientific Temperance Federation: 1870s-1960s. OH Hist Soc. Majority of pre-1933 material available on 364 rolls of microfilm, cataloged as MIC 107.
- Truth, I.B. The Triple Threat, Alcohol – Tobacco – Dope. Westerville, OH: STF, 1968.
- Brown, F. Education on Wheels, Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1914.